The first edition of this book profoundly challenged and divided students of philosophy, sociology, and the history of science when it was published in 1976. In this second edition, Bloor responds in a substantial new Afterword to the heated debates engendered by his book.
David Bloor's challenging new evaluation of Wittgenstein's account of rules and rule-following brings together the rare combination of philosophical and sociological viewpoints. Wittgenstein enigmatically claimed that the way we follow rules is an "institution" without ever explaining what he meant by this term. Wittgenstein's contribution to the debate has since been subject to sharply opposed interpretations by "collectivist" and "individualist" readings by philosophers; in the light of this controversy, Bloor argues convincingly for a collectivist, sociological understanding of Wittgenstein's later work. (...) Accessible and simply written, this book provides the first consistent sociological reading of Wittgenstein's work for many years. (shrink)
How are social and institutional circumstances linked to the knowledge that scientists produce? To answer this question it is necessary to take risks: speculative but testable theories must be proposed. It will be my aim to explain and then apply one such theory. This will enable me to propose an hypothesis about the connexion between social processes and the style and content of mathematical knowledge.
I offer a reply to criticisms of the Strong Programme presented by Stephen Kemp who develops some new lines of argument that focus on the ‘monism’ of the programme. He says the programme should be rejected for three reasons. First, because it embodies ‘weak idealism’, that is, its supporters effectively sever the link between language and the world. Second, it challenges the reasons that scientists offer in explanation of their own beliefs. Third, it destroys the distinction between successful and unsuccessful (...) instrumental action. Kemp is careful to produce quotations from the supporters of the programme as evidence to support his case. All three points deserve and are given a detailed response and the interpretation of the quoted material plays a significant role in the discussion. My hope is that careful exegesis will offset the numerous misinterpretations that are current in the philosophical literature. Particular attention is paid to what is said about the normative standards involved in the application of empirical concepts. The operation of these standards in the face of the negotiability of all concepts is explored and misapprehensions on the topic are corrected. The work of Wittgenstein, Popper, Kuhn and Hesse is used to illustrate these themes.Keywords: Strong Programme; Social constructionism; Idealism; Monism; Finitism; Relativism. (shrink)
: H-J Rheinberger's book Toward a History of Epistemic Things contains a sophisticated account of scientific reference and scientific method worked out in conjunction with a case study of the laboratory synthesis of proteins. This paper offers a detailed critical analysis of Rheinberger's position from the standpoint of the sociology of scientific knowledge. The central thesis is that Rheinberger's account of reference, whether deliberately or unwittingly, assimilates discourse about the natural world to discourse about the social world. The result is (...) an inadequate account of scientific terms, which does not do justice to the independent character of the objects of scientific knowledge. A further feature of Rheinberger's approach is a commitment to an extreme form of methodological pluralism. This is challenged in the paper on the basis of a sociological reading of Carnap's famous identification of a "continuum of inductive methods.". (shrink)
I want to propose to you a theory about the nature of objectivity—a theory which will tell us something about its causes, its intrinsic character, and its sources of variation. The theory in question is very simple. Indeed, it is so simple that I fear you will reject it out of hand. Here is the theory: it is thatobjectivity is social. What I mean by saying that objectivity is social is that theimpersonalandstablecharacter that attaches to some of our beliefs, and (...) the sense of reality that attaches to their reference, derives from these beliefs beingsocial institutions. (shrink)
I want to propose to you a theory about the nature of objectivity—a theory which will tell us something about its causes, its intrinsic character, and its sources of variation. The theory in question is very simple. Indeed, it is so simple that I fear you will reject it out of hand. Here is the theory: it is that objectivity is social. What I mean by saying that objectivity is social is that the impersonal and stable character that attaches to (...) some of our beliefs, and the sense of reality that attaches to their reference, derives from these beliefs being social institutions. (shrink)
In this paper David Bloor defends his sociological analysis of the disputes over the nature of aerodynamic lift described in his historical study The Enigma of the Aerofoil. The criticisms expressed by Christopher Norris are rejected on the grounds that Norris systematically misrepresents the strong programme in the sociology of knowledge, e.g. by treating the principle of explanatory symmetry as if it meant ‘parity of esteem‘. Some of the various senses of the word ‘realism’ are identified and an account is (...) given of the respects in which the sociological analysis of scientific knowledge can be realist rather than, as Norris insists, anti-realist. (shrink)
Two points of contact are explored between contemporary philosophy of science and Dialectical Materialism. The first point deals with the interaction view of metaphor as an exemplification of the law of the unity of opposites. The contradiction is then noted between the strategy and tactics of much analytical philosophy and the lesson to be learnt from this account of metaphor. The concern to change category habits into category disciplines rules out the process of conceptual change of the interaction view. G. (...) A. Paul's dismissal of Lenin's theory of reflection is then criticized in the light of the interaction view. (shrink)